Tuesday, July 13, 2010


That’s what my friend Kristy said when I told her about the plans for my next posting: Rice Paper Spring Rolls with Shrimp.  It’s another light, healthy favorite that makes for a unique finger food any time of year, but is really just the ultimate dish for summer!

In my Rice 101 posting, I told you all about my dad’s obsession with rice.  Well the apple doesn’t fall far from the rice paddy because I love all the by-products of rice…rice candy, rice crackers, (Rice Krispy treats!), but most of all, rice noodles and rice paper spring rolls.  There’s something about the translucent appearance and light texture of them that I just can’t get enough of.  (I just polished off five of these rolls, and could have easily downed a sixth!)  Generally, rice noodles or the rice paper wraps alone don’t have much flavor, so the key is to combine them with fresh, fragrant ingredients that add texture, plus a phenomenal sauce for dipping. 

Fill a beautiful platter for a striking hors d’oeuvre at your next party.  Or serve with a green salad for an elegant luncheon or light dinner.  Just don’t forget to pass the sauce…it is equally important as the roll itself!  
Working with rice paper rolls may seem tricky, but it’s very similar to wrapping a burrito.  The key is to make sure all your ingredients are prepped and within reach, then work quickly.  The rice paper wrappers are actually very forgiving to work with.  Each time you roll one, it will get easier, I promise!

Makes 12 rolls
4 small bundles of Chinese vermicelli rice noodles (usually comes in a 10.5 ounce package with 8 small bundles), *found in Asian food aisle of most grocery stores
12 dried rice paper wrappers (8” each), *found in Asian food aisle of most grocery stores; I prefer Banh Trang Vietnam Spring Roll Wrappers
1 cup cilantro leaves, stemmed
2 cups romaine lettuce, julienned
½ cup baby carrots, julienned
36 large, cooked shrimp, peeled/tailed and cut in half (31-40/lb. size)

Chili Soy Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. Sambal Oelek chili paste, *found in Asian food aisle of most grocery stores
3 tsp. rice wine vinegar

In a small sauce pan, bring 5 cups water to boil.  Add the 4 bundles of rice noodles; simmer for about 2 minutes until noodles are cooked (do not overcook); drain in colander; rinse thoroughly with cold water until completely cool.  Set aside.

Fill a bowl (at least 9” wide and 2” deep) with warm water.  Fully immerse one rice paper wrapper in the warm water for five seconds; shake excess water and place on cutting board.  Place approximately 1/4 cup rice noodles on bottom third of wrapper, leaving at least 2” border around the edges.  Place six pieces of shrimp on noodles, then sprinkle on 1 tablespoon cilantro, 6 carrots, 8 pieces of lettuce.  Fold over the right and left sides of the wrapper.  Roll the wrapper from the bottom (closest to you) towards the top to cover the pile of ingredients,; continue to roll upwards while keeping the ingredients tightly tucked inside.  Place on a large platter, seam side down.  Immediately cover with cold, wet paper towels.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Keep spring rolls completely covered under the wet paper towels, then cover with plastic wrap, until ready to serve.  Can be refrigerated up to 3 hours before serving.

Whisk together the three dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour into a small serving pitcher.  Cut spring rolls in half, at an angle.  Serve with dipping sauce on the side.  Pour a small amount of sauce into the sliced-open end of the roll before eating.

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